Cancer Care

Cancer-related fatigue doesn’t have to keep you down

April 30, 2013

Cancer-related fatigue doesn’t have to keep you down

Thanks to advances in cancer treatment, patients today experience fewer debilitating side effects from treatment. However, cancer-related fatigue remains one of the most common side effects of cancer and cancer treatment. The fatigue occurs in 70 to 100 percent of patients, especially those undergoing treatment. It appears suddenly and can be overwhelming. Rest does not necessarily relieve the fatigue.

Cancer-related fatigue affects many aspects of daily life, including mood and emotions, and can interfere with normal functioning. Thirty to 75 percent of cancer survivors report fatigue continuing for months, even years, after treatment is completed.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat the fatigue. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends that patients be systematically screened—at their first visit, during treatment and after. It’s important the physician know how tired the patient feels.

Some causes of cancer-related fatigue are treatable, such as anemia, pain, sleep disturbance, side effects from medications and emotional distress. Again, it’s important to consult with your doctor.

You also need to prioritize adequate quality sleep and a healthy diet. One of the best ways to reduce fatigue is to increase activity and to exercise. Try to get 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day, if possible. You can walk, run or ride a bicycle. Try also to incorporate strengthening exercises two to three days a week. Other options are Yoga, T’ai Chi or other therapeutic exercise programs.

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